Obituary: Charles Francis Farritor
Two-time Claremont Citizen of the Year, great-grandfather, author, was 97
Charles Francis Farritor was born September 9, 1924 in Anselmo, Custer County, Nebraska. He was the fifth child of six children, the grandson of Irish immigrants who successfully homesteaded in Nebraska in the mid-1800s.
His Irish parents raised him on their farm in Broken Bow, Nebraska, which he describes in the three books he wrote. He was drafted in 1945, and when the recruiter in New Jersey said “cowboys make great sailors,” joined the Merchant Marines. He served as a chief quartermaster and wheelman and boatswain to March 1951.
On the way from New York to his assigned ship in California, his train was caught in the Wyoming Blizzard of 1949. It proved to be a fateful crisis, because he met an intern nurse on her way for training in Hawaii named Muriel. She was not impressed. But he looked her up when they finally arrived in Hawaii and they began dating. On his last ship leaving Hawaii for California, the ship’s boom broke and swung out, hitting him across the back. He ended up with a fused back. During his recovery in New Jersey, she visited him often. They were married December 1, 1951. Years later, when he needed more back surgery, “Mo” convinced a surgeon to come out of retirement who used an unusual pig bone replacement. He warned him to keep busy if he wanted to touch his toes when he was 40. She always joked he loved corn because of that bone in his back.
The couple moved to California and had two children, Cathleen and Tim. He studied photography, got his notary public, real estate and builder licenses and worked in the building trade, finishing his career with Campbell Construction. He started his own home inspection company called High Marks. His last years were spent with perpetual home projects and cutting firewood in his backyard.
He was active in the American Legion Keith Powell Post 78 and established the Legion’s baseball scholarship and the flag disposal programs the local Boy Scouts still run today. He was active in the Claremont Democratic Club until COVID happened. He was a member of the Toastmaster’s Club and a community police volunteer in the 1980s and 90s.
He self-published three books of stories from his Nebraska childhood: Buffalo Grass and Tall Corn, In the Gentle Blue Light of the Dog Star and The Dog Star Had Their Back. He was proud of his wife’s and Jan Weinberger’s work with the Claremont Senior Center and the Committee on Aging. When they died, he established the nonprofit “Stories and More” in their honor. He was named Claremont’s Citizen of the Year in 2016 and 2019 and got to ride in the big car at the front of the Fourth of July parade.
He died peacefully at his home on November 23 at the age of 97. He leaves behind his 99-year-old sister, Lenore Rourke; daughter, Cathleen Farritor; grandson, Mark West (Penny); great-granddaughter, Gemma West; sixteen nieces and nephews; twenty-two grand nieces and nephews; and one great-grandnephew.
His wife, Muriel Teeling Farritor, and son, Timothy Farritor, predeceased him.